Who was behind the drone attack on the Iraqi Prime Minister’s residence? – OpEd – Eurasia Review
On Sunday, news of the attack on the residence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi was widely reported around the world. But the question is: who wants to eliminate Kadhimi and why?
A review of Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi’s record in this post during his 18 months as Iraqi Prime Minister and the results of the recent Iraqi elections may bring us closer to the answer to this question.
Al-Kadhimi, who has dual British and Iraqi citizenship, returned to Iraq after the US occupation of Iraq and continued his political career. He did not join any of the Iraqi political parties and was politically active as an independent. Al-Kadhimi after Shahwani became the Iraqi intelligence chief, which was under US control. During this time, he sought to maintain his independence while establishing links with other Shiite parties and groups, most of which were under the influence of the Iranian regime.
After the October 2019 nationwide protests in Iraq, which led to the resignation of then Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, Iraq entered chaos and political instability. After much negotiation and political maneuvering from all parties including Iran, the United States and Iraqi political parties, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who was the main candidate for prime minister, was finally elected on 7 May 2020, with the consent of the parliamentary majority.
As Prime Minister, his goal was to restore the independence of the Iraqi government and get the country out of Iranian control and influence. He managed to establish friendly relations with other Arab countries which did not have friendly relations with the Iranian regime, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In his efforts, Mustafa Kazemi obtained the consent of these countries to invest in Iraq. This made Iranian officials quite unhappy and dismayed. He added to Iraq’s prestige by organizing an important summit in Baghdad, in which French President Emmanuel Macron also participated.
Al-Kadhimi has also sought to strike a balance in his foreign policy by mediating between Iran and Saudi Arabia and providing a platform for talks between the two sides in Baghdad. Khamenei, who relied on one of his loyal Iraqis to become the next Iraqi prime minister, played a double game with Mustafa Kazemi. Sometimes Khamenei supported Kazemi and other times opposed him.
In an unprecedented turn of events, in the recent elections in Iraq, contrary to Tehran’s expectations, pro-Iranian parties and groups did not do well at all. Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sairon coalition, came first with 73 seats. Although Muqtada al-Sadr is a Shia cleric, he tried to distance himself from Khamenei. Recently, he twice rejected the invitation of the Islamic Republic to visit Iran.
After the election results became clear and revealed that Tehran-affiliated political parties and groups failed to secure a majority, these groups, led by Hadi Ameri, rejected the election results and claimed that they had defrauded the elections. To worsen the situation, on November 5, 2021, Iranian proxy groups, including “Hashd-Al -Shabi” and “Kataeb-Hezbollah”, gathered at the entrance to the green zone in Baghdad, attempted to enter the area. green, where most government offices are located. Government security forces confronted them. According to videos posted on social media, protesters were throwing stones at security forces at entrances to the “green zone”, and security forces used tear gas to disperse them. It is reported that 125 people were injured in the confrontation, and several social networks reported that two people were killed. This has not been confirmed by official sources. Muqtada al-Sadr later called this action by Hash-Al-Shaabi “ugly”.
Of course, this was not the first time that members of Iranian-backed groups clashed with Iraqi security officials. The clashes escalated after death sentences were passed on two members of “Kataeb-Hezbollah”, who were charged with killing protesters and opponents of Iranian influence in Iraq. On November 1 and 2, a court in the city of Basra sentenced two members of “Kataeb-Hezbollah” to death. They have been implicated in the assassination of several Iraqi protesters and journalists over the past two years.
It should be noted that this is the first time that an Iraqi court has tried and sentenced to death members of “Kataeb-Hezbollah”, one of the most influential groups affiliated with the Iranian Quds force. The case has been appealed and the conviction may not materialize. However, the passing of such sentences in the important city of Basra indicates the amount of hatred that the Iraqi people have against the Iranian-backed proxy groups in Iraq. This turn of events has only one message: Iran’s influence in Iraq is dwindling and weaker and weaker, especially in the southern regions of the country.
Mustafa al-Kazemi, Iranian Prime Minister, called the decision “a very important step in restoring the rule of law in Iraq”.
The results of the recent elections were, in fact, a wake-up call for Khamenei and his influence in Iraq. The closest Iranian-affiliated groups, which held 48 seats in the previous parliament, won just 17 seats in the new elections.
The winner of this election is undoubtedly the “Sairon” and Muqtada Al-Sadr coalition, which was able to send 73 representatives to the new parliament. Muqtada Al-Sadr recently started talks with other parties to form a future government. After the elections, Khamenei invited Muqtada Al-Sadr to Tehran, with the aim of persuading Sadr to agree to forming a coalition with pro-Iranian political parties and groups, as he feared that the Fatah coalition, led by Hadi al-Amiri, who had officially declared allegiance to him, would have no role in the next government. However, Sadr did not accept Khamenei’s invitation to visit Tehran.
Khamenei’s envoy to Baghdad reportedly warned Muqtada Al-Sadr that this could lead to civil war in Iraq if the next government does not include the “Fatah” coalition.
Since Sadr himself is not in a position to hold the post of Prime Minister, he has two choices:
- Form a government with the presence of all Shiite forces that maintain close relations with the Islamic Republic, since all governments came to power in 2003.
- Launch a comprehensive coalition of 40 independent representatives, representatives of Kurdish parties and representatives of non-religious and Sunni groups opposed to Iran.
If Muqtada Al-Sadr chooses the latter option, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s chances of regaining the post of Prime Minister will be high. The recent drone strike on Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s residence could be interpreted as a hostile act by pro-Iranian proxies and show their dissatisfaction with the whole process. It should be noted that only proxy forces affiliated with Iran are equipped with drone capabilities. They actually presented him during a recent parade at Camp Ashraf (then the headquarters of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (MEK), which the Quds Force now occupies), near the town of Khalis.
It is clear that if Al-Kadhimi, who also enjoys US backing, is re-elected, Iran’s influence in Iraq will be significantly reduced. And, of course, the effect of this will not only be in Iraq, but will quickly spread to other countries, including Syria and Lebanon, and this is something that Khamenei is most afraid of, and therefore, it can motivate him to do everything to ensure that this scenario does not materialize.
According to a tweet from Hamdi Malik of the Washington Institute, Qais Al-Khazali, the leader of the Kata’ib Hezbollah group, had already threatened Kazemi. Addressing Kazemi among members of his paramilitary group, he said: “We will never give up the blood of Abu Mahdi (Al-Muhandis) and Haj Qasim (Soleimani).
Interestingly, while almost all world leaders condemned the drone attack on Kazemi’s house, some Iranian media, such as the IRNA news agency, called the attack suspicious and attempted to portray it as suspicious. ‘in a way that was in Al-Kadhimi’s interest.